In line with expectations, PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) continued to contract in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12) as sustained weakness in consumer demand and budget constraints in the commercial segment led to a decline of 10,7% in overall PC shipments compared to the same quarter last year.

The fourth quarter results bring total EMEA PC sales to 105,6-million units for the full year 2012, and to a decline by 1,6% compared with 2011. Portable PC shipments remained almost flat, declining by 0,8% in 2012, while desktops declined by 2,9%.

“As expected, PC sales remained constrained across EMEA in 4Q12 as consumer demand concentrated further on tablets during the holiday season, and despite the launch of Windows 8 and new designs which did not provide the hoped upturn effect,” says Maciej Gornicki, senior research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing.
“As a result, notebook sales continued to display negative trends in the last quarter of the year, with a decline by 12,8% of portable PC shipments in EMEA in 4Q12.”

In Western Europe, sales remained constrained by continued weakness in consumer demand during the Christmas season and a disappointing market lift provided by Windows 8 and new products, leading to an overall decline in the region by 12,5% compared with the fourth quarter last year.

The Nordics and the UK showed healthier results as expected. Demand in Germany remained soft, while southern Europe continued to be the most affected by difficult economic conditions and shift towards lower priced devices including tablets and phones.

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) also remained constrained and directly impacted by the inventory issue in Russia, which brought the region to a 13,6% decline, while the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region held better in line with expectations at a 0,6% decline.

In line with expectations, tablets continued to act as a disrupting factor in 4Q12 while both consumer and commercial markets have been further affected by macro-economic conditions, leading to shrinking disposable income for consumers and tighter budgets regarding business investments. The public sector across most countries also remained under pressure announcing further cuts and austerity measures, adversely impacting PC demand.

“Retailers and distributors across the region remained cautious when taking new orders in order to avoid any inventory build-up fearing weak consumer sales during Christmas and anticipating on Windows 8 transition,” adds Chrystelle Labesque, research manager: EMEA personal computing at IDC.

Windows 8 and new designs did not provide the hoped and awaited boost, and consumers’ attention and budgets remained drawn during the Christmas season on tablets and smartphones. The transition has been well anticipated by the channel and the industry since 3Q12, but the uptake has been slow and only accelerated towards the end of the quarter from a demand standpoint. Limited offering on the shelves at the time of the launch also contributed to a slow start.

The multiplication of form factors and devices available along with increasing options in terms of operating system contributed to some confusion and wait-and-see attitudes prevailed during the quarter, and led many consumers to opt for an easier, cheaper and short-term tablet purchase. New hybrid designs and especially touch models that are key in supporting the Windows 8 value proposition generated strong interest, but high price points remained a major inhibitor for a larger volume uptake whilst display supply shortage also contributed to constrain shipment levels.

“The PC market in the Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMA) region reported an overall decline of 8% year on year in Q4 2012. Both regions witnessed weakness in the markets due to inventory and economic slowdown as well as the continual political unrest in the Middle East and Africa.
“The CEE region reported annual contraction of 14% driven by the decline coming from Russia, as the inventory levels have been unrealistically high with the large shipments witnessed in the last two quarters. The Middle East and Africa is slightly in a better position with 1% year-on-year decline. Demand in the notebook segment has been slow in MEA due to the popularity of tablets in the region.
“In addition, the newly launched Microsoft Windows 8 was not able to lift demand across the regions,” says Stefania Lorenz, research director at IDC CEMA.

HP consolidated its leadership in EMEA, and regained significant share in particular in the Middle East. Performance was softer in Western Europe and CEE, in line with slow market conditions and limited Windows 8 market lift, but HP maintained a strong execution focus and rolled out an extended product portfolio which enabled the vendor to take advantage of the gradual acceleration in demand towards the end of the quarter.

Lenovo gained second place in the overall EMEA ranking, recording another strong quarter and reaching 11,1% share in EMEA. The vendor continued to post robust growth across all sub-regions, driven by consumer expansion in key geographies, while maintaining a strong focus in the commercial market. Consistent strategy and execution is paying off, while new product introductions and innovation are also key drivers behind Lenovo’s success and expansion across EMEA.

Acer slipped to third place, recording as expected a weaker quarter sequentially from a sell-in standpoint, and impacted by weak consumer demand, which led the vendor and channel to cautious orders during the quarter. Despite the late and slow uptake of Windows 8, Acer benefited from an early product positioning in the channel which supported sustained sell-out while touch models also supported demand.

Asus kept fourth place despite a double-digit decline in shipments, directly impacted by a decline in portable PC sales and netbook volume contraction. Consumer demand for mini notebook continued to fade away, directly impacting the vendor from a year-on-year growth perspective. Asus however continued to drive robust growth in the desktop space, with strong results in particular in Western Europe.

Dell maintained fifth position in the overall ranking, recording a weak quarter, directly impacted by decelerating corporate renewals and constrained public spending and overall cautious business investment. While the vendor maintains strong positions in the commercial space, overall performance remains directly affected by the continued challenge faced in the consumer space.

Outside the top five vendors, Samsung kept sixth place in the overall EMEA ranking with soft growth in Western Europe and Middle East, the launch of all-in-one models fuelling growth in the desktop space. Toshiba also maintained its seventh position with a good performance overall supported by a good product line up and making the most of slow consumer market conditions.

Apple suffered from supply constraints in all-in-one desktops, which impacted desktop sales, while notebooks continued to grow.

Sony declined by 15,5% directly impacted by slow consumer demand overall, while Fujitsu also recorded a slower quarter with a decline by 15,1%.